Drew gets a shot at Division IPublished 9:57pm Friday, August 16, 2013
By Matthew Hatfield
The 2012-13 Suffolk News-Herald Boys Basketball Player of the Year has a new college destination.
After giving an oral commitment in May to play at the Division III level for Randolph-Macon, Nansemond River graduate Ed Drew was given a chance just a couple months later to take his talents to a Division I program.
It was something too good to pass up for Drew and a lifelong goal of his, so he decided to sign to play for the Presbyterian Blue Hose, coached by Gregg Nibert, in the Big South Conference.
For the 6-foot-5-inch forward, who didn’t become a full-time varsity starter until his senior season with the Warriors, the feeling is surreal.
“I want to thank God for this opportunity, and to be honest, I’m still letting it sink in that I’m going to play Division I basketball. It has always been a lifelong dream of mine to be at that next level and also playing for a team with a great coaching staff, players and program that accepted me,” Drew said.
“I would like to thank my mom and dad for pushing me, motivating me and never giving up on me. I’d also like to thank coach (Ed) Young for teaching me and letting me use the gym.”
This past season, Drew received First Team All-Eastern Region and All-Southeastern District recognition, as well being chosen Honorable Mention All-State. He participated in the VHSCA All-Star Game in July, where he helped the East squad to a victory over the West. He averaged 16.2 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game, with 23 double-doubles, as the Warriors finished 17-5 overall.
Located in Clinton, S.C., Presbyterian College has gone 35-57 in their three years as a program, including 8-24 last season. Presbyterian sees Drew as a player who can help strengthen its front-court rotation and develop into a key to its attack.
“They liked my post-up game, when I can go left and right, how I shoot the mid-range, and also they liked how I can get the ball to my teammates,” Drew said. “Coach Nibert sees me fitting in by getting rebounds, playing defense inside and out, going left and right on my post moves and running the floor.”
Drew’s offer from Presbyterian this summer took Young by surprise.
“He had some Division I sniffs where some schools like a Stephen F. Austin would probably take him as a walk-on, but walk-ons don’t play, even preferred walk-ons. I told him that wasn’t a good route to go and that he deserved to play Division I on a scholarship. At the time, his next best opportunities were the schools that wanted him,” Young said.
“Obviously, Randolph-Macon, Virginia Wesleyan and Christopher Newport were ones that recruited him hard and very much wanted him. I thought he’d do well at any of those. He picked Macon and figured it was a done deal until I heard Presbyterian had interest.”
Informing the Macon coaches that he was changing his mind wasn’t easy for Drew to do.
“It was difficult at first, but the coaches from Randolph-Macon understand, congratulated me and wished me the best of luck,” he said.
In recent years, Drew watched other Nansemond River players, such as Andre Jones (Winthrop), Nick Wright (Old Dominion), Ashton Moore (The Citadel) and Shannon Evans (Buffalo), go on to the Division I ranks. That served as the constant motivator.
“What pushed me ever harder toward that goal is when I see my former teammates go D-1 and I always kept note to myself that I could do it and be like them going Division I,” Drew believed.
Even though Drew took an unusual path, he is one more player the Warriors will send on to college to represent their program against some of the better competition the sport has to offer.
“I was proud that it happened, but I wasn’t very happy how it happened, because once our kids give their word on where they’re going I want that honored. He’s really worked for it though, deserves it and I wish him nothing but the best,” Young said.
“Presbyterian’s playing some pretty tough schools like Clemson, South Carolina and University of Cincinnati, so he’s going to have to really step it up to compete against those types of players.”
What will Presbyterian fans and those that follow him in Suffolk witness in Drew at the next level?
“A player who’s ready to work hard,” he answered. “And I want to show everybody that working hard will get you beyond far.”